BioCycle August 2011, Vol. 52, No. 8, p. 6
DuPont Pulls Imprelis
At press time, BioCycle learned that DuPont had just sent out a voluntary recall for Imprelis, a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide containing the hormone-based pyridine aminocyclopyrachlor. The compost community had expressed concern over DuPont’s label restriction prohibiting composting of grass clippings where the herbicide had been applied. Our Special Report in June BioCycle on Imprelis (available at www.biocycle.net) provided in-depth coverage of the situation. The Editorial in that issue called out the manufacturer for marketing a product that rendered yard trimmings noncompostable. The U.S. Composting Council also urged the U.S. EPA to reevaluate the product. But that’s not what ultimately prompted the recall. This summer, Extension agents from the Midwest to the East Coast began reporting significant tree damage – including spruce, white pine and maple – in landscapes where Imprelis had been applied to turf grass.
Addressed to turf managers and product distributors, the recall letter states: “…DuPont is implementing a voluntary suspension of sale of Imprelis herbicide. In addition … we will soon be conducting a product return and refund program for Imprelis herbicide … We sincerely regret any tree injuries that Imprelis may have caused, and will work with you and all of our customers to promptly and fairly resolve problems associated with our product.”
Blazing A Trail Toward Zero Waste
Sports arenas that draw thousands of people on a regular basis are great sources for recyclables and organic waste – if the mechanics are in place to gather the goods.
The Portland Trail Blazers are a case in point. Besides garnering a LEED gold certification for refurbishing and upgrading its Rose Garden arena, the NBA basketball franchise has been a leader in organic waste collection. James Jedibudiah, corporate sustainability coordinator for Ovations, the food and beverage provider for the facility, says the purchase of an $80,000, 20-cubic yard source separated organics compactor has been central to Trail Blazers’ accomplishments.
Another focus of the program has been the evolution of the collection bins inside the facility. Students from Portland State University monitored attendees’ behaviors and received input from fans as to how signage and other elements of the program could be improved. Ovations uses a four-part bin, with openings for glass, organic waste, commingled (paper, plastic and metals) and trash. “We designed our own container and found a local company to make it for us,” Jedibudiah says. The compacted organic waste is picked up by Allied Waste and transported to its Pacific Region Composting (PRC) Facility near Salem. Jedibudiah reports a 78 percent diversion rate for the first quarter of 2011, estimating that between 4 and 5 tons of organics are collected at every game. Education of users has been “a bit of a challenge,” he adds, but notes “it’s lucky for us that we’re in Portland. It’s what people want to be doing.”
The Trail Blazers are part of the Green Sports Alliance, founded in 2010 to promote sustainable practices at sporting venues. Other founding members include four Seattle teams, including the Mariners major league baseball franchise. The Mariners has seen an increase in its recycling rate from just 12 percent several years ago, to an average of 75 percent this year due to a organics and recyclables diversion program. The team expects to save $80,000 to $100,000 in landfill fees this season. (See “Take Me Out To The Windrow,” December 2010 for program details.)
Green Infrastructure For Clean Water
Up to five Centers for Excellence for Green Infrastructure would be set up across the country if a bill introduced in both houses of the U.S. Congress passes. The Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act, introduced in May by Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Russ Carnahan (D-MO) in the House and as S 115 by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) in the Senate would allow states, localities and other entities to receive grants to implement green infrastructure (GI) projects that would address storm water management and other water quality and quantity issues. The centers would provide technical assistance to state and local governments and conduct research on storm water and sewer overflow reduction relevant to their geographic region, as well as offer communities training and technical assistance on how to implement GI best management practices. These include green roofs, permeable pavers and rain gardens to capture water to recharge groundwater.
“The regional centers established in this legislation will work with our communities to ensure that projects effectively manage storm water flow and improve water quality, bringing us closer to a clean-energy economy and improving our outdated water infrastructure,” said Rep. Edwards. The bill has 22 sponsors in the House and two in the Senate and has been endorsed by the American Society for Landscape Architects, American Rivers, the Natural Resources Defense Council, American Public Works Association, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Clean Water Action and others.
Annual Biosolids Conferences
The theme of the Northwest Biosolids Management Association’s (NBMA) 24th Annual Conference – to be held September 11-13, 2011 in Stevenson, Washington, is “Biosolids: It’s Something To Brag About.” “When the Conference Planning Committee met earlier in the year, threats of a potential ban in Washington, amplified online activity slamming the use of biosolids (Class A and all) and a genuine ‘what do we do now’ just hit folks,” says Maile Lono-Batura, executive director of NBMA. “It was then that we started talking about why we’re here, why it’s important and why we need to brag about this amazing product. So we invited speakers to communicate their experiences related to this (the triumphant and the heartache) – Milorganite and their long history of marketing a biosolids product; San Francisco’s sharing lessons learned from the compost giveaway program, some of the local biosolids in urban agriculture initiatives and how Victoria, British Columbia decided to turn down land application as an option. We will also have updates on biosolids research projects and program case studies from around the nation.” http://www.cm.wsu.edu/biosolids.
The 2011 North East Residuals, Biosolids, & Energy Conference – Residuals Math 101: Doing More With Less – is being held November 9-10 at the Johnson & Wales Inn in Seekonk, Massachusetts (near Providence, Rhode Island). This annual conference of the North East Biosolids & Residuals Association (NEBRA) is cosponsored by the New England Water Environment Association. Topics on the agenda include energy production, current research, analysis of USEPA’s new incinerator rules, sustainability in biosolids program management (including “Yoga for Operators: Flexible Implementation of Biosolids Improvements in Bridgeport, Connecticut”) and new technologies to improve operations, such as screw press dewatering. A tour of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation’s landfill and recovery operations in Johnston, including yard trimmings composting, C&D debris processing and its MRF, is offered on November 9. www.nebiosolids.org.
Cellulose Ethanol Gets A Boost
With federal subsidies for corn-based ethanol drying up, cellulosic ethanol production will get a financial boost, but not before the deficit takes its toll. In July, a key bipartisan group of senators agreed to end the 45-cent-per-gallon volume excise tax credit for ethanol blended into gasoline, as well as a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff on ethanol imports. The move comes at the heels of international criticism that the tax credit and tariff linked worldwide food prices to fossil fuel prices, driving up the former with disastrous consequences.
About two-thirds of the $2 billion saved in ending the subsidies five months early – they were set to expire at the end of the year – would go toward the towering federal deficit, while the remaining third would be split between a production tax credit for cellulosic biofuel ($308 million), an alternative fueling infrastructure tax credit ($253 million) and a small-producer tax credit ($107 million). A White House staffer said President Obama would support the proposal. Some members of Congress oppose what they see as a compromise in continuing to fund cellulosic ethanol.
In related news, the Department of Energy (DOE) and USDA announced in early July a DOE $105 million loan guarantee to the Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based biofuels producer POET to construct the first-of-its-kind commercial-scale plant to produce cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs and corn stover.
Compostable Plastics Task Force
The U.S. Composting Council (USCC) has launched a Compostable Plastics Task Force comprised of five working groups: Labeling and Identification; Legislation and Enforcement; Compostability Standards; Consumer Education; and Composting Operation Impacts. Its mission is to influence the ongoing development of compostable plastics so that these materials benefit the composting industry through increased organic waste capture while not adding unnecessary burdens to composters due to noncompostability of materials or added residue disposal. The task force grew out of discussions at the Compostable Plastics Symposium convened at the USCC annual conference in California that examined issues around the growth of compostable plastics from the composter’s perspective. The conversation was continued at the BioCycle Global Conference in April.
The task force and working groups are expected to create opportunities for composters to provide insights and experiences in discussions with key stakeholders including compostable bioplastics producers, product manufacturers, material buyers, consumers and regulators. Each group will work to articulate specific action items they will undertake toward achieving the overall mission. By facilitating dialogue among key stakeholders and composters, end-of-life impacts for composting can be considered and solutions to identified issues can be developed. The first report on the action items from the working groups and task force will be given at the USCC’s Annual Conference in Austin, Texas in January 2012. For more information contact one of the co-chairs – Debra Darby (DDarby@mirelplastics.com) or Michele Young (Michele.Young@ sanjoseca.gov) – or Cary Oshins of the USCC (cary.oshins@composting council.org).
Campus Sustainability Conference In Pittsburgh
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) is holding its annual conference October 9-12, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Laureate and Founder of the Green Belt Movement, is the Opening Keynote Speaker. Workshops include a Student Summit on October 9 that will host more than 600 attendees and a keynote session with Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. There also will be a meeting of College and University Recycling Coordinators. AASHE campus tours include Chatham Univ., Duquesne Univ., Penn State, Carnegie Mellon, West Virginia University, and University of Pittsburgh. http://conf2011.aashe.org.
Solar Roads Shine On
The success of a demonstration project placing solar panels along Oregon highway rights of way has the state’s Department of Transportation (ODOT) preparing to break ground on even larger arrays. The first facility – at an interchange along Interstate 5 south of Portland – produces 112,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually from a 104-kilowatt ground-mounted solar array, enough to power one-third of the interchange’s lighting. ODOT maintains more than 16,000 miles of highway rights of way on which it could build solar arrays, according to Joshua Proudfoot of the Good Company in Eugene, which conducted the greenhouse gas emissions lifecycle analysis for a 3 MW follow-up project. The agency also spends about $4 million annually to produce 45 million KWh of electricity to power highway lights and other systems. Proudfoot says only 120 miles of solar arrays would be needed to produce that amount of electricity.